Long before the Internet, magazines, in paper format of course, had a much more significant role in American life and the images we saw of each other. One of the iconic “picture” magazines was Life and in 1949 Gordon Parks (1912–2006) broke barriers and became its first Black photographer.
Now through February 18, 2019, the National Gallery of Art is showcasing, “Gordon Parks: The New Tide, Early Work 1940–1950.” Sharon Farmer, former Director of the White House Photography office, called the exhibit, “The holy grail, because you get to see how he got started and who he grew to become.” The exhibit includes 150 photographs, as well as rare magazines, newspapers, pamphlets, and books.
Parks was a self-taught portrait photographer and photojournalist and also worked for Ebony and Glamour before working for Life. The Kansas native was also a prolific, groundbreaking influential filmmaker, and the first African American director of a major Hollywood film, "The Learning Tree" (1969).